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Audio porn?

Feminist filmmaker says she is shocked film was barred from release in India

By WITW Staff on March 2, 2017

In an Op-Ed for The Guardian, filmmaker Alankrita Shrivastava writes of the backlash she faced for her recent film Lipstick Under My Burkha, in which she provocatively depicts four emboldened women pushing back against the traditional constraints placed on their lives in a small town in India. By refusing to certify the film, the Central Board of Film Certification in India has blocked its release. The reasons the board stated for the decision include: it’s “lady orientated”; it contains “sexual scenes”; and is “audio pornography.”

Shrivastava wagers that the popular narrative of Indian cinema is the “male gaze,” which precludes the depiction of “real women” with agency. Women are, she suggests, depicted in a way designed solely to fulfill male desires and are thus cast as either “pure” — like goddesses — or shamed and discarded. Lipstick Under My Burkha does not fit into this male-centric narrative, but instead threatens to disrupt the status quo with its depiction of feisty, confident women who “dare to tell stories from their own points of view.” Blocking its release is, she concludes, part of a “systematic silencing of the female voice in India’s popular culture,” a “silencing” of her female focused agenda.

Shrivastava nonetheless claims that she never expected the film would provoke such a backlash in India, a democratic country. “I never imagined that my feminist politics would rattle the board so much that they would refuse to let the film be shown,” she wrote. “It came as a shock — and yet, when viewed in the context of the status of women in India and the representation of women in popular Indian culture, it perhaps shouldn’t have done.”

Refusing to be silenced, Shrivastava says she will fight to ensure that her film is released in cinemas in India and will continue to “make ‘lady-oriented’ films as long as I can.”

Watch a clip of the film below:

Read the full Op-Ed at The Guardian.


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